INSACOG begins sewage monitoring for COVID-19 – what is it and how does it help?

New Delhi: Amid the continuous decline in the number of COVID-19 in the country, INSACOG or Indian Sars-CoV-2 Genomic Consortium has initiated sewage monitoring to check for the presence of Sars-CoV-2 virus. So far, this surveillance has been launched in 19 different locations across 15 states.

This was revealed by Dr NK Arora, who is the Chair of the COVID Task Force, National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI). Dr Arora informed: “Wastewater monitoring began in India at 19 different locations in over 15 states.”

Wastewater monitoring is also called environmental monitoring. This is not the first time that India has embarked on such monitoring or study. This type of method was also used during the anti-polio campaign in the country.

The development also came amid concerns over the first reported case of the XE variant of COVID-19 in the country. The suspected case was reported from Mumbai, Maharashtra. However, INSACOG or other central agencies have not yet confirmed the detection of XE variant of COVID-19 in India.

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“As cases decrease, susceptibility increases because most COVID-19 cases are asymptomatic. If there is a new variant emerging, susceptibility increases, even if the number of cases is lower,” Dr Arora said. , quoted by the ANI news agency. .

Helps detect mutations or new variants

So how does wastewater monitoring help? According to experts, environmental monitoring helps detect any mutations or new variants circulating among the country’s population. It also helps in picking out geographical trends in the infection scenario.

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In the first stages of the coronavirus pandemicscientists had described environmental surveillance as an important tool for tracking the virus, its development and its spread.

Dr Priya Abraham, Director, ICMR-NIV, Pune, noted that sewage sampling helps detect COVID-19 activity in an area. She told ANI: “The environmental monitoring that people are doing is actually sewage sampling, which is like a proxy indicator that a particular area that this sewage is being discharged from still has COVID activity. So it’s a way of doing environmental monitoring or surveillance.”

According to experts, the RNA (ribonucleic acid) of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, like other coronaviruses, can be detected in human feces. Sequencing the genome of sewage samples helps detect the presence of Covid-19 in an area early.

Such wastewater monitoring helps in the rapid identification of variants in the community.


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